By Caitlin Chodakowsky
Let's play a game. I say a word and you respond with the first word that you associate with it ... ready? Provider. Protector. Father.
I don't know about you but for me these words go hand in hand. It is sad to think many people have never known a father who is a provider and protector. Having done volunteer work in a juvenile detention center I know firsthand that most of the boys and girls serving time there do not have a father figure in their lives.
US @epartment of Health Census statistics confirm this, stating that 75 per cent of all adolescent patients in chemical abuse centers and 85 per cent of all youths in prison come from fatherless homes.
To a lesser extent, some of my closest friends say their deepest hurts, disappointments, and burdens come from something their father has said or done.
I find it hard to relate because my father is my role model, my protector, and my provider.
He has sacrificed many things for his family and never complains when he has had a hard day.
He always tries to help us out with things, whether it be loaning money for me to buy a car, chasing a house burglar down the street or breaking his drill bit trying to help me make a volcano out of a pointy rock.
When the Bible talks about God being a Father, I think of my dad and I know God is good. Unfortunately the idea of a father for some puts people off God. Perhaps they see Him as uncaring, too harsh or strict, distant, angry, unavailable, or never present.
This is why I want to set the record straight. Set aside all your earthly associations to the word 'father' and consider what Scripture says about the character of God the Father.
He is described as a Father to the fatherless and protector of widows and orphans (Psalm 68:5), the Father of mercies and God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-4), the Father who knows our needs before we ask Him and provides for us (Matthew 6:8, 26) and the Father who gives good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11).
The Bible says Jesus and the Father God are one (John 14:6,9), so if we know Jesus, we know God the Father.
To illustrate what God the Father is like, Jesus told a story (found in Luke 15:11-31) about a son who demanded his inheritance from his father early. His father had to sell part of the property to give his son what he wanted.
The son abandoned his father and travelled to a distant country to "squander his wealth on wild living" to the point where he had nothing left and was forced to eat with the pigs. Realizing the mess he was in and the mistakes he had made, he did not expect his father to forgive him but knew even if he went back and begged to become his father's servant, he would still be better off than where he was.
Little did he know how his father would react.
"But while he was still a long way off," Jesus describes, "his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him... the father said to his servants, 'Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found' (see verses 20-24)."
It doesn't matter what mistakes you have made in your life, God is like this father Jesus describes waiting to wrap His loving arms around you and welcome you home.
If the word 'father' is not associated with good memories in your life, remember that God is your Heavenly Father. He wants a relationship with you through Jesus. There are no strings attached, just a real, unconditional love that is waiting to heal hurts, bring comfort and protection, forgive past mistakes, and bless you with the greatest gift of all: eternal life with Him in heaven.•